From Elizabeth Serreau, FAIS Library Director
In April, FAIS had a wonderful (virtual) visit from Rosanne Parry, well praised Portland resident author. Her visit was an exciting change from our COVID isolation and a welcome ushering of spring and creativity. Thank you to the technical help and wizardry of all the staff in, and outside the classrooms, for 4 (almost) hitch free Zoom sessions!
It was a very special visit for other reasons. First, she came to us via the Internet, and second, she talked to us from the tree house in her yard, where she usually writes (in summer or in fair weather). We could hear birds and the wind in the trees as she spoke.
During her 4 different workshop-style interventions with the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, she presented at length her writing process and philosophy. It was inspiring both for students and teachers!
She explained her research process when she prepares materials to write a novel. It might take up to a year to find and read all of the information she needs. It was a great pedagogical reminder to illustrate the importance of seeking out different types of resources, and to verify the authenticity of facts. Rosanne Parry explained the importance of acknowledging, and analyzing the biases present in any type of information. But she also stressed the importance of empathy. She tries to get into the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations of the characters she depicts, including animals before writing about them.
“Research is one of my favorite things about writing. Sometimes I research in the library but sometimes I research while camping in the mountains or canoeing on rivers and lakes. I go to museums. I go looking for whales in a kayak. I take pictures of plants and animals and listen to birds and the sound of the wind.”
The students were well prepared and asked many good questions after she spoke about her work. We all got to know Rosanne better as a human being, not just a name on a book: a person, warm, full of creativity, and very inspiring. What a treat to have such a talented author in our midst, even virtually.
Rosanne Parry has been on the Oregon Battle of the Books list several years. Many of her titles (full bibliography) are on best books of the year lists and/or have starred reviews. She has also won several awards:
- Heart of a Shepherd, 2009 (Oregon Spirit Award)
- Second Fiddle, 2012 (Oregon Spirit Award)
- Written in Stone, 2014 (Oregon Spirit Award, WILLA award for Women Writing the West for a children’s novel)
- Turn of the Tide, 2016 (Oregon Spirit Award)
- Last of the Name, 2019 (Oregon Spirit Award, New York Historical Society History Book Award)